Two Wisconsin law firms, Hawks Quindel S.C. and Habush Habush & Rottier S.C.® announced their intention to individually vindicate the employment claims of their clients following a decision released today in the case Epic Systems Co. v. Lewis. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned rulings from the Western District of Wisconsin, the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit, and the National Labor Relations Board, which had all found that contract provisions forcing employees to waive their right to join together to bring a legal claim against their employer, and forcing employees into individual private arbitration, violate federal labor law. The Supreme Court concluded that employers can force employees to litigate violations of their rights in the workplace in individual, private arbitration, and can prevent them from joining together to assert their claims.
One of Mr. Lewis’s lawyers, David Zoeller, stated “while we are disappointed in the decision, and agree with Justice Ginsberg’s dissent criticizing the Court’s willingness to suppress worker’s rights through the enforcement of unbargained-for labor contracts, and reminding us of labor law’s central purpose of allowing employees to gain strength in numbers, this decision does not end this case or others like it. Where an employer fails to comply with state or federal employment laws, it cannot hide behind individual arbitration provisions to avoid liability.”
As it stands now, a legislative effort is needed to reinstate employees’ right to join together and stand up against employers who do not follow the law. Until that time, the firms representing Mr. Lewis emphasize that they are not deterred from seeking justice for employees’ subject to mandatory individual arbitration who have been the victims of wage theft or other abuses at the hands of their employers.
Mr. Lewis’s attorneys state that, if compelled, they will go forward in the private arbitral forum selected by Epic, and will have their clients’ claims heard, one at a time. Attorney Knutson commented that “the absurdity of retrying the same claim hundreds of times is not lost on Mr. Lewis or his team of attorneys, but that is exactly what will happen as a result of Epic’s forced arbitration provision.”
Attorney Knutson led the Habush team, which also includes Dan Rottier, Jim Jansen, and Breanne Snapp. The lawyers at Hawks Quindel working on the case include David Zoeller, William Parsons, and Caitlin Madden.
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